Director: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson
There is a curse running amok in Hollywood, and it has made every video game based movie to come out of their suck, ever since the first dawn of these movies, including titles like ‘Super Mario Bros.’ and the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise that ends in 2017, thankfully.
But 2016 was supposed to be different. It started at the beginning of what was a terrible summer for blockbusters, with Duncan Jones’s ‘Warcraft’, which despite everyone’s high hopes, not only was a bad movie, but also didn’t succeed much in domestic box office. It lacked interesting characters, interesting storylines, and was overall a mess of a boring film.
Arriving at the start of 2017, we now have ‘Assassin’s Creed’, starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Irons. The hopes were high for this as Michael Fassbender has established himself as one of the most respected big-budget actors as of late. Not only was there mainstream talent to sell tickets, but the director was one that interested me after his film ‘Macbeth’ which also starred Fassbender and Cotillard. The director, Justin Kurzel, showed great skill at handling the battle scenes in ‘Macbeth’ as well as imbuing it in dark shades of red, to give the whole film a bloody, scarred look. None of his skill in ‘Macbeth’ transferred over to this, and the curse still reigns over Hollywood and video game movies.
‘Assassin’s Creed’ is lacking in cohesive storytelling, a plot that makes sense, and it has a generic sense of urgency that they don’t ever really make up for. It’s another movie that was told to have a short run-time, incorporate a lot of CGI, and just be a cash grab for those who like the property it’s based on. As a result, the film has a ton of flaws, in every department. The biggest reasons being that the movie makes no sense as a story, the characters are wildly inconsistent, there’s no substance, the action is subpar, and it’s just really boring.
The story is complete nonsense. The basic premise is explained at least five times in the first 15 minutes, with this long war between Assassins and the Knights of Templar. The goal for the war is to get this device that supposedly controls humanity’s free will, and they want to use it to end violence, so they have a centuries-long war…to end violence…using a device…that controls free will. WHAT?! The machine that gets used to transport Michael Fassbender’s character into the past doesn’t make sense; supposedly, there’s some DNA that they have of his 500 years dead ancestor that they match Fassbender with in the machine. It’s a bunch of scientific jargon that is completely implausible. “Genetic memory” is what they call it, but that’s not at all how genetics works, and that’s not how memory works either – the whole thing makes no sense.
In the trailer, they reveal that they bring Michael Fassbender back from the dead, however they never even attempt to explain that. It gets worse when it’s revealed that everyone else in the facility has also been revived somehow, and some people have been like that “for 200 years” as one character says, even though he looks 40. But other people in the facility, who the audience knows has been “dead” for less than 200 years, has aged a lot. There’s just too much wrong from a logical standpoint to even call this “science fiction” – it’s just bad fiction!
The action is quick cuts and a lot of unnecessary CGI; what should’ve been long takes of running, jumping, martial arts, and people being assassins is unintelligible at times. There’s a lot of sequences that, again from a logical standpoint, don’t add up; if Michael Fassbender is supposed to be performing all of these actions in the laboratory of dead people while imitating his ancestor (WHAT?!), then where’s all the room for this in the laboratory? The way these scenes are edited don’t really know how to answer that question either.
My final major gripe is that too much is uninteresting. Every scene that takes place in this laboratory, where they say scientific stuff and do scientific stuff, is boring. There’s no character to be invested in, and their purpose in existing is super predictable, because everything is over-explained in the first 15 minutes. The performances are average because it doesn’t ever feel like anyone is trying. If they ever decide to do something like this again (and it is clear they’re trying to set up a franchise), they should listen to me on this…if they simply did an action/adventure film set in whatever ancient event, like the Spanish Inquisition (“no one expects the Spanish Inquisition”), and CUT OUT all the scientific scenes in between, it would at least be interesting throughout. The action scenes where it was the Assassins doing their thing were good. Unfortunately, they make up about 20 minutes out of 120.
Also unfortunately, they really chickened out and went for a 12a/PG-13 rating, so all of the action and intensity that could’ve been there was intentionally left out, with no effort to replace it. This cowardly ploy shows that the studios have no faith in letting a director make the film they have the potential of making. The same studio that made this also produced ‘Deadpool’, so they should’ve learned that R-rated movies make money when they’re done right. The games that ‘Assassin’s Creed’ is based on are rated M, for 17 and up, so dumbing it down for the 12+ market makes absolutely no sense. It shows that they have no understanding of how the public decides to see certain movies; the studios thought money would rain in on the name alone, but now that this movie is turning into a massive flop, maybe they’ll realize that it takes talent to make the money rain in. Or at least the foreign box office.